Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Double-Decker Bus Tour of Sydney (Part Two of Three)

We have learned so much about how we travel together, Amy and I. We pretty much like the same things. If it has to do with animals, we are all over it (African Big Five, Australian koalas and kangaroos, yesterday's trip to the Taronga Zoo) We will go to museums if they are on the itinerary, but would rarely go out of the way to see one. On our very first stop on our way to Hyderabad, we spent a few nights in Frankfurt, Germany. There was actually a famous museum filled with religious icons that I had thought I might like to go see... but we never got around to doing it.

I did forget to mention one slight "downer" about our Taronga Zoo experience... we waited too long to see the orangutans and they were on an extended "break" during the heat of the day, and were not expected to be out running around again until after the sun was on its way down. But the chimpanzees were pretty cute and playful.... see the photo journal in yesterday's blog enrty.

Another thing we have learned is that if you have a limited time to spend in any one city, and if the city is of any size whatsoever, taking one of those double decker on/off tour buses with the recorded guide and a set of headphones is the way to go. We did it in Frankfurt, we did it in Singapore (which was the best!)  And now we decided to do it again in Sydney, which is a good city for walking, but a little big if you plan to see more than one-or-two things.

We got off to a slow start on New Year's Eve...that can happen sometimes if you are following your itinerary scheduled for a "day at leisure"....looking back at the photos, I now remember why we got up a little later than normal...

At the end of our long day yesterday... we had found a cool pub/restaurant about 1.5 km. from our hotel (all downhill) near the Circular Quay (which you learn very quickly is properly pronounced "KEY"!!) called Jackson's on George   From the look of their current website, it seems that are closed now for remodeling, are under new management and are due to reopen as "P.J. Gallagher's" - - and according to their Facebook page, they are already selling tickets for their rooftop New Years Eve party...and as I write this, we are not even to Thanksgiving yet! They were pushing hard to sell us tickets to the NYE party when we were there...and we may have actually considered it...for a nanosecond. They probably did have a decent view of the harbor fireworks show from their roof... but the idea of rooftop partying with 100's of 20-somethings at an "all-you-can-drink" affair had me thinking that we might be spending the night stepping over bodies and puddles of puke. NOT the way we wanted to spend the evening!!

Did I mention that the walk to Jackson's was "all downhill" ?? Well.... the walk back to the hotel was a pretty steep climb up a side-street off of George Street that actually ended with three flights of stairs to the terrace from where we could enter the Shangri La. But all was not lost...we stopped for a nightcap at the homey little pub called Hart's Pub which was located just before the last set of stairs to "home"!! No wonder we got a slow start the next morning!

Some photos of Jackson's are in the beginning of the "Sydney Double Deck Bus Tour" Facebook album (see ink at bottom)

So...once we got ourselves together and got out the door... off we went on "walkabout"... we stopped at a Starbucks near the harbor (another thing we have learned about traveling together is that everything goes better with Starbucks!)...and not too far from where Jackson's was located, we found a double-decker bus-stop and bought us a pair of daily on/off tickets. The bus took a zig-zag route through the city ... we took a few photos but mostly we got on and off to go to some very cool old malls...and I did some shopping for some shirts and shorts...

The bus took us over to "Dawes Point" which is the place where people were already beginning to gather to get the best free-spots to watch the fireworks show from. Our hotel had become like an armed encampment... you had to show your room-key at the front door to the lobby....and very soon, they would be enforcing the "no outside alcohol" rule... so we bought several bottles of good champagne and snuck them up to the room when we were done with all of our shopping.

Of course, our constant companion for the day was "Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy"... the little stuffed scruffy-black dog that we had picked up back in Port Douglas...I guess we were starting to miss Beloved (aka The Bee - our Lhasa Apso) who was back at home in Hyderabad staying with our driver, Krishna. Hairy has his very own set of photos below.

By far one of the best parts of taking the double-decker bus tour of any city...are the pub-scouting possibilities you have from the upper-deck. While touring, we passed "The Oldest Pub in Sydney" (so they claim - there seems to be some controversy over who has been there longer with the pub right next-door - the "First Fleet Bar and Bistro")  which is now known as  The Fortune of War  We had a few pints while talking to one f the locals (very easy to do in a Sydney Pub!)

It was time to head back to the hotel and get inside before the big fireworks show.

Of course this was not before one more fateful stop at Hart's Pub. Did I mention that we had a couple of pints at the Fortune of War? Well that was followed by a bit of pub-grub and some number of pints to follow. We chatted with a few more of the locals (one of whom was a female bartender who was from California! Or maybe she said New Jersey. Whatever!) The walk up the last few flights of stairs was memorable. I think. I really don't remember.

As has happened every New Year's Eve since we got married 15-years ago... we didn't make it to midnight.

Well....we did. Sort of. Sydney's fireworks spectacular is so incredible, that they do it twice. There's the "kid's show" at 9:30 P.M. Which we both watched from the big picture window in our hotel room. And it was incredible... with the Sydney Harbor Bridge in the background... it was one of the greatest fireworks shows I had ever seen!!

We toasted the New Year about two-hours early...which is normal for us....and Amy crawled into bed and went fast to sleep.  I nay have closed my eyes for a bit as well...but luckily I heard the first of the midnight fireworks at the moment they first started. I woke Amy up and said "You have to see this!! This is it...the big one!!" We watched the whole show.... gave a quick "Yaaaay!" and both closed the day off with a final glass of champagne.

Here endeth a very, very long day!

Stay tuned for Part Three.... and the FINAL blog-post on our Australian adventure coming tomorrow!!

Sydney Double Deck Bus Tour

It's Hairy Maclary From Donaldson's Dairy

Pub Crawl and Fireworks